Tuesday, June 29, 2010

EwokOne


Hey everyone, I'm at Carnegie Mellon right now, at this six-week art program, and there's a substantial amount of homework, so my posts may be somewhat sporadic, but I'll probably be able to post once or twice a week. Today, I'll be talking about two street-artists with very different styles. The first is EwokOne, and to be honest, I cant tell you a lot about him. This is because there is an absolute dearth of information about the artist himself, which I guess is a good thing because it keeps the focus of the public on his art. However, he does keep a blog where he talks about his projects and stuff he likes - sound like anybody you know? ahoh-hoh-hoh.

As for his art, he makes it with a few helpers, and they split up the lineart and coloring and stuff. Aficionados will have to pardon my ignorance of street art jargon, cause I don't really know what things are called, but I guess I can still talk a bit about what I think of his art. To start, I like it. His tags largely bear a generic graffiti style, which isn't innately bad, but not really worth mentioning; it's cool, at least. What I am far more interested in are his works on paper and canvas. Though some of his characters do manifest on city buildings, most are confined to other mediums, which is a shame because most of them are great. By the nature of street art, much of his work is social commentary, and he uses bizarre and familiar characters, often collaged with newspaper, stamps, and money to express his ideas. His paintings have the loud, bold style of graffiti, paired with subtler textures and details more common to gallery stuff. See for yourself.


Hope you like this stuff.
Thanks,
Daniel Christensen

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mega Post!: part 2 of a mega-summer mix/playlist consisting of "mega-chill summer jamz"

Hello again! Welcome to the "long-awaited" part 2 of a rather large (perhaps even too large) mix/playlist consisting of songs that, at least in my opinion, are very summer-y and have a summer vibe or, at the very least, are summer themed or have the summer-related words in their title. I apologize for the somewhat-long gap in between posts, I had some trouble organizing this half, but I hope you enjoy it and are able to "chill out" or "jam with some friends" to it. Also, I really wish I had posted this yesterday, since, I found out thanks to google, was actually the first official day of summer. I think that would have been more fitting, but today was my very last day of school so it works out better for me, and hopefully you can settle for that.

Link: http://8tracks.com/discretemath/down-at-the-sea (this half of the mix is titled Down at the Sea, after the song of the same name which appears on it (it is not the "best" song, at least in my opinion on it, but it's name worked out well as a summer-themed title for a summer-themed mix.)

Tracklisting:

1. Right Ting - Toro Y Moi

Yes, that is the correct spelling, it is not a typo on my part. A little while ago I saw a list of "the 25 best new bands in the world". I have to admit, I was more than a little skeptical about this list. While it featured some great, great bands (like Cymbals Eat Guitars) it also featured total shit (like Sleigh Bells (sorry Sleigh Bells fans)) and bands that are by no means "new" (like Atlas Sound (although he (Bradford Cox) definitely deserves to be on "best of " lists). Anyways, Toro Y Moi was on this list, and he was one of the bands I was a little skeptical about. Do not "get me wrong", I enjoyed Causers of This and thought it was a pretty good "chillwave" record, maybe among the best out there, but in the grand scheme of things, I wouldn't have called him great. However, my opinion has recently changed. With the release of songs like "Leave Everywhere" and "Right Ting", he's shown a definitive move towards "lo-fi summer/beach jamz" and I think his stuff is much better this way and is really awesome, especially this song.

2. Walkabout (w/ Noah Lennox (a.k.a. Panda Bear)) - Atlas Sound

Man, I love Atlas Sound. That Bradford Cox is simply amazing. He rules in Deerhunter as well, alongside Lockett Pundt (whose stuff as Lotus Plaza is quite good too). This is one of his more fun songs, featuring a sample from The Dovers' "What Am I Going to Do". It's all about growin' up and not knowing for sure what you want to do about things (this sentence applies to both songs but is directed towards "Walkabout"). Great, great song, check out both Logos and Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel

3. Bad Kids - Black Lips

The Black Lips are a fun punk/garage-y band who apparently have quite wild and raucous live shows (I've tried to see them but it didn't work out, it's maybe worth looking up tales of the things that have happened at shows past). This is their most popular song, but it's very fitting for summer so that's why it's on here.

4. I Am a Girlfriend - Nobunny

I like Nobunny a lot a lot a lot. Really fun retro-poppy-garage-y-punk-y tunes. This is probably my favorite of his, and if you like it I strongly recommend his album Love Visions. For fans of bands like Smith Westerns, Hunx and his Punx (who were, rather oddly, recently featured in a Lenscrafters commercial), King Khan and BBQ Show, and maybe even Girls.

5. Heavy Metal Drummer - Wilco

I don't really think Wilco need an explanation, but if you don't know them they are super great. This is the most accessible song off their magnum opus Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (except for Kamera, which I think kinda sucks) and is about Jeff Tweedy reminiscing about seeing some heavy metal bands on landings in the summer, only then his gal falls in love with the drummer.

6. Heavy Cloud Hustle - Blind Man's Colour

AnCo wannabes, but in a good way. This is the only song I've heard of theirs, but I really have been meaning to check out more. They're from Florida, but I like how they have the british spelling of color. I also like how both this song and preceding one begin with he word Heavy.

7. Strictly Game - Harlem Shakes

I listened to these guys' debut, Technicolor Health, a good bit last summer. Their song "Sunlight" was on my old summer mix I believe. This is more of a new year's song I think, but it can work for the start of a new school year and things like that. Unfortunately they're now broken up.

8. Let's Burn One Down - Weed Diamond

Don't really know much about this guy, but this is the only song out of a few that I've listened to by him that I've liked. Fun, incredibly "poorly recorded" pop.

9. Beach Boy - Buffalo Moon

I really like this song. I've listened to it a lot recently. It's off of their cassette, Wetsuit. As the title indicates, it's very summer-y and there is a definite Beach Boys influence I think.

10. Go Outside - Cults

This is a nice song that makes good use of a glockenspiel I think. You might know it already since it got some hype. It was released on a 7" put out by Forest Family Records (featured in this sweet post: http://ourmathissodiscrete.blogspot.com/2010/06/forest-family-records.html). A fun tune

11. Hey Boy - The Magic Kids

This band's really fun and I think they have a bright future ahead of them. The song is extremely retro-poppy (in a good way) and great.

12. Nobody Could Change Your Mind - Generationals

I don't really know anything about this band, but I enjyoed this song by them. Also worth checking out their song "When They Fight, They Fight" maybe.

13. Down At the Sea - Beat Happening

This song, by twee-gods Beat Happening, is about a beach party hosted by "Mr. Fish". It's really fun, but sloppy and simple, like all of their songs. It doesn't feature the deep, "dulcet" tones of Calvin Johnson (who also played with The Halo Benders (with Dough Martsch) and founded the great K Records), and I'd highly recommend their other stuff.

14. Big Dipper - Built to Spill

I don't think I need to introduce/explain Built to Spill, they're awesome. This is from one of their earlier albums, There's Nothing Wrong With Love, along with smash-mega-hit "Car".

15. Range Life - Pavement

Let me apologize for putting Pavement on many of my mixes (at least it seems that way to me). It's just that I love them so much. While I guess they are a "hipster-band" I genuinely like them and think that the vast majority of their stuff is great. "Range Life" is off of their arguably-greatest album Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, and makes fun of police officers (run from the pigs, the fuzz, the cops, the heat) as well as Smashing Pumpkins and The Stone Temple Pilots (they're foxy to me, are they foxy to you?)

16. American Smokes - Lester Brown

This guy's a relatively unknown "chillwave" artist. His only release, the Islomania EP is available for free download on his myspace. I highly recommend it, it's quite good and, since it's free, there's no reason not to. This was my favorite song off it. Very similar to stuff like Julian Lynch, Ducktails, Real Estate, etc.

17. Mickey Mouse - Wavves

WAVVES IS SUMMER. While he was at first loved by most, and now hated by many, Nathan Williams sure knows how to make some fun noise-pop summer tunes. He is known for writing songs about having fun and not caring about anything and just getting high and surfing and stuff. Those are some very summer-y themes if you ask me. He also makes fun of goths. This is off his new album, King of the Beach, which recently leaked and this song has a somewhat noticeable AnCo influence. I wanted to put one of his older, more noisy songs on here, but none would really fit with the rest of the mix. Check out "No Hope Kids" , "So Bored", "California Goths", "To The Dregs", "Cool Jumper", and "King of the Beach". Seeing him on Friday and super excited for it.

18. Daydream - Beach Fossils

A friend of mine sent me a link to a Beach Fossils song a while back, and I thought it was alright, just another summer-tinged tune, but nothing special. I got their album about a week ago though, and boy, do I love it. I've listened to it daily and it's actually quite good and great to drive around to. I'm seeing them in august opening for Here We Go Magic and have rather high expecations for them. A new summer favorite of mine.

19. Golden Sea - French Films

The only song (at least that I know of and that is posted on their myspace) by some guys in a country world-renowned for it's awesome beaches, warm weather, and great waves for surfing. I am talking of course, of Finland. Jokes aside, these guys are great. They sound a lot like beach fossils but maybe with more of a tinge of Joy Division and The Drums. I am excited for new material by them.

20. You and I - Washed Out ft. Caroline Polachek

A new-ish song by "chillwave" demi-god Washed Out featuring some guest vocals by that girl in Chairlift who enjoys headstands. About what you would expect from him, meaning it's a pretty good song. Definitely worth a listen.

21. You! Me! Dancing! - Los Campesinos!

Oh my, these guys certainly do have a penchant for exclamation marks. They're the band currently making my favorite music (I have other favorites who could and would give them a run for their money, only the stuff of theirs that I love was in the past and they're broken up or if they are still making music it's not as good as the old stuff (I am looking at you Modest Mouse). If you can handle the post-rock-esque intro you will be rewarded with a great song. Twee As Fuck.

22. Autumn Sweater - Yo La Tengo

I don't think Yo La Tengo needs any introduction or explanation (at least I hope they don't). This is one of their best known songs, and that's definitely for a reason. It is pretty close to perfect I think. Ira Kaplan writes some of my favorite love songs I think. I hope this song closes the mix nicely.

I really hope you enjoy the two parts to this one mix and don't mind my somewhat awful writing.

Thanks, and Enjoy - Alec

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mac James

I apologize for Alec's brazen disrespect for writing conventions.
click image to enlarge
Hot dog, evidently I am a fan of artists with the initials M.J. Mac James is an Hawaiian artist working out of Kauai. He's heavily influenced by the ecology of Kauai and "Conveying nature in a contemporary sense." His Artist Statement largely discusses his concern for the environment and its continued neglect.

In the past, I haven't been that interested in observational nature art, but Mac's work is quite different. His paintings and drawings fluctuate in the balance of expression and realism, and though it might only be because of my own ignorance, it seems like artist that do a lot of nature paintings focus too strongly on replicating what nature looks like, or deviate so far in their abstraction that I can hardly make the connection between the art and the inspiration. Looking through his portfolio, I've developed the sense that James' process is largely casual and natural. The construction of some of his paintings give me the impression that he may have started with a basic concept and added elements until he was satisfied. I really like this because I look at a lot of graphic design stuff, and everything is very calculated and you get a sense for how many drafts and how much planning goes into any given piece. As you can imagine, it is refreshing to me to look at stuff that feels loose and improvised, but still visually recognizable.

Beside the clear influence of ecology on his work, Hawaiian culture and folklore emerges in many of his paintings. I think his reverence towards nature and native culture is apparent in the content and style of his works, and that seriously adds to their meaning as much as their appearance. Notably, many of his paintings use only one color, or just a few. I think this speaks well towards his ability, given my often professed love of color. In lieu of extravagant interplays of color, James makes a lot of really heavy, moody paintings in a variety of styles. That being said, I prefer his paintings where color is used, but is more of a secondary thing.

Something I really appreciate about his online portfolio is that there are hi-res versions of most of his paintings and sketches, and a lot of them are presented with backstories, so give it a look-see. Here's a sample of his collage work, which he ceased around 2004, sadly.


Dig it? Glad. One for the road? I think so.

link

-Daniel

Sunday, June 13, 2010

MEGA POST!: part 1 of a mega-summer mix/playlist consisting of "mega-chill summer jamz"


(i took this pic and i'm quite proud of it, hopefully you like it)

hey bros. i'm not gonna lie, i just get so stoked every time i realise that it is now officially summer (even though we are still stuck in school). if you have been reading this blog attentively you may remember that i posted a summer mix a while back in winter. i was really tired of cold weather. actually, it is now a little too hot and humid for my taste. i think i like the idea of summer and the freedom and no responsibilities and fun and hangin' with friends more than the real thing (which is not to say i don't enjoy the real thing). anyways, here is part 1 of a mix/playlist compiled exclusively for listening to during summer or while thinking about summer. think of this as disc 1 of a two disc album, or, the A side of a vinyl record, or, Side A of a cassette tape. it may be interesting for you to compare this to my earlier summer mix to see how my tastes have changed/progressed/been influenced by the far-to-humid summer weather. i really hope you enjoy it though.

Link: http://8tracks.com/discretemath/kids-on-holiday (This part is tentatively titled Kids on Holiday, after the song of the same name which appears on it).

Tracklisting

1. Beach Comber - Real Estate

I really like Real Estate, and this is my favorite song of theirs. There is something about their twangy, reverb drenched, washed out/far away sound that is very summery and relaxing and "chill". Their s/t full length came out last year and is great, I heartily recommend it to everyone.

2. Mega Secrets - Family Portrait

I don't really know much about this band, but I enjoy their stuff. I first heard them on a compilation by the Friendship Bracelet Club.

3. Providence - The Love Language

This song is quite fun. I found out about this band last summer and listened to this song a heckuva bunch, so I guess there are some summer memories behind it. They are sorta reminescent of bands like Dr. Dog and The Magic Kids. Lo-fi retro pop excellence.

4. People - Silver Jews

The most criminally overlooked band. There album American Water is one of the best albums ever, but vastly overlooked. Stephen Malkmus plays guitar, Dave Berman sings and writes the tunes. There are other members too. Dave's lyrics are very amazing, but there is some nonsense/"out there" lyrics so beware. The band Suburban Kids With Biblical Names got their name from this song. Listen to "Random Rules" as well.

5. Twin Peaks - Surfer Blood

Man, I really, really like this band, I think Astrocoast is maybe my favorite debut this year so far. It's kinda odd, cause when i first heard "Swim (To Reach the End)" last year I really didn't like it, but they really grow on you. My recent love is sparked by a friend including their song "Floating Vibes" on a mix she made for me. This song is my favorite of there's I think. Key Lyric: "Why is everything a chore? I'm too young to be defeated" Youth and no responsibilities is what summer is all about. Sort of surfy lo-fi-ish garage pop with reverby vocals. It's really excellent.

6. Droplet on a Hot Stone - Julian Lynch

Julian Lynch has some cool songs, they are really lo-fi and far away sounding. He's very akin to Ducktails I think.

7. Shore Patrol - Fluffy Lumbers

Man, I really like this song (and Fluffy Lumbers in general) a whole lot. He's from NJ and is kind of a part of that whole Real Estate/Ducktails/Julian Lynch scene. Very beachy, summery tunes, he has only one EP out I think.

8. Fair Weather Friends - Daedelus

This is a little different from all the other stuff I have on here. This song is a lot different from most of Daedelus' other stuff too (I don't really like a lot of his stuff). He sounds sort of like Flying Lotus so if that is your thing I'd recommend him. This song's good though, fun samples and beat and stuff.

9. New Wife, New Life - Truman Peyote

This song is very heavily AnCo influenced. I like it a lot, but I don't really like much of Truman Peyote's other stuff, excluding a couple of songs. A lot of it is sort of unlistenable in my opinion.

10. Kids on Holiday - Animal Collective

You probably know AnCo so I won't really go into them. However, I will say that I really really really like Sung Tongs and think it is a superb summer album.

11. In Spain - Vadoinmessico

I don't really know much about this band. This song's quite fun though. There is a definite latin/spanish influence (as noted by the title) in this song with fun rhythms and guitar and percussion. The voice is definitely tinged by an accent as well. I think most everyone will probably enjoy this one.

12. Summertime - Girls

I love Girls. At first I wasn't really into them but "Lust for Life" is such a irresistable, catchy pop song and that kind of lead me into listening to all their stuff. All the songs off Album are good and fun. While some of the songs are sad/mopey (in a good way) they don't need to be taken seriously, they just need to be enjoyed. They also do a lot of good songs that weren't released on the album, I'd recommend "Heartbreaker".

13. Texico Bitches - Broken Social Scene

Broken Social Scene is a band I forget a lot about, but love every time I listen to. You Forgot it in People is truly a great album and one I always come back to. There's a lot of variety and I like how they are a large band with a lot of rotating members but a kind of core sound. This song's off their new album and I like it a lot.

14. Summer - Modest Mouse

Good song by my favorite ever band off the great The Fruit that Ate Itself EP.

15. July, July! - The Decemberists

The first Decemeberists song I heard, so I guess there is some nostalgia here. It's quite a fun song.

16. Crushed Bones - Why?

I've been listening to a lot of Why? recently. While I generally don't like rap/hip hop these guys pull it off quite well and a lot of their songs aren't technically hip-hop but there is a definite heavy influence. If you know some other bands like them please let me know. Great, great lyrics by Yoni.

17. Boardwalk Theme - Desolation Wilderness

Read about them here: http://ourmathissodiscrete.blogspot.com/2010/05/desolation-wilderness.html

18. Young Hearts Spark Fire - Japandroids

Japandroids are awesome. A two-piece drums/guitar garage-y band where they both sing and play their hearts out. There songs are very fun and have a youth-y "let's just have fun and do stuff" feel to them. I listened to Post-Nothing more than any other album last summer. Japandroids are summer. simple as that. Check out their new song "Younger Us". They were also featured on my previous summer mix.

19. Tunguska - Cymbals Eat Guitars

Cymbals is another band that I found out about and listened to a lot last summer. I've seen them live several times and they completely kill (look up the show review about them and Los Camp). They're super nice guys as well, and their facebook fan page is really fun. This song wasn't on their album, Why There Are Mountains, but it, along with their other new songs, is great.

20. Relax at the Beach - The Sandwitches

Read about them here: http://ourmathissodiscrete.blogspot.com/2010/02/sandwitches.html

21. All My Friends - LCD Soundsystem

I don't really like most of LCD Soundsystem too much, but I quite enjoy their non-electro-dancey songs, like this one. The piano riff/jive is absolutley rad. It's very fun and anthemy and free-spirited but there is also a "tinge of melancholy". I think it's quite a good closer to part 1 of this mix.

Stay tuned for part 2.

-Alec

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Video Games as Art

This post is text-heavy, and I won't name many games, but I'll toss in a few pictures to break up the word continents. Bear with me, because the pictures are all from 90's games, and I know a single frame can't really give you much of an idea of the game, but the three of them are from games that mean a lot to me.

Jet Force Gemini

This has been talked to death in so many ways by so many people, but I think the fact that I write for a blog gives clear enough evidence that my pretense is so great that I can not help but throw my hat into the ring. Now, my view on it might seem something of a cop-out, but basically, I believe that there can be no concrete definition of what constitutes art. Rather, I consider anything that inspires thought, art. Of course, arts occupy a spectrum of varying types and intensities, so I think the question of whether or not something is art is a little silly.

I think the less jackassish path of logic still leads to the conclusion that video games are an art. Though they started as a simple, while increasingly complex, form of entertainment, they have evolved into a medium for profound, universal commentaries, as well as unequivocal exercises in empathy. A game can place your mind into the body of a character, and bring you to experience what he experiences on a personal level, by creating an association of your actions and objectives with those of the character.
I have a theory or two about how the stigma about recognizing video games as art arose. My first theory is that in attempts to classify video games, people have gotten hung up on comparing them to established art forms, i.e. poetry, sculpture, dance, calligraphy. This is something that confounds me, because it would appear that there is really only one major difference between video games and classical art forms, albeit it is a big one. Interactivity is the thing. For some reason, many argue that interactivity essentially disqualifies video games, because interactivity shifts possession of the property from the artist to the audience. This is really an infantile argument; fundamentalism for fundamentalism's sake.

I think an argument against arthood that bears a little more weight is the notion that a fabricated universe that one can experience virtually takes the place of imagination. I feel that this opinion is a relic of a society with a considerably less tolerant "uncanny valley." For millennia, man has imagined the worlds described in art, now, however, he can see and hear and interact with those worlds. I do not believe this is an abortion of the spirit of creativity that art is often meant to instill. In fact, I feel that the immense powers of creation that game designers wield has repeatedly resulted in the most profound and inspiring works of art that man has ever seen. Forgive me for being dramatic, but I think video games may be the most powerful -though unrecognized- art form. Art has always been about projecting the artists perception of existence. Now more than ever can an audience truly experience the mind of an artist, in ways that paintings and symphonies will struggle to match.
Final Fantasy VIII

An individual is no longer limited to simply looking at a static graphical depiction of happiness, or rage, or love, and the quiet contemplation of the symphonic outpourings of a musician's soul no longer needs to be the only way to experience his emotions. I have said "experience" several times now, because the synthesis of the visual, auditory, and interactive culminate in the ability to experience an event, whether or not it ever happened. I think the redefinition of what it is to experience is a change that will come to define mankind's increasingly digital existence.

There are a lot of ideas here that are too big to talk about in anything less than a Socratic debate, but I hope that I've given you something to think about.

-Daniel

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Forest Family Records


This post is actually about a record label instead of a band. It's about Forest Family Records, a lil' label started in the end of march by the guys at GorillavsBear and Weekly Tape Decks. Gorilla vs Bear is my fave music blog and the only one I check regularly (check it out at www.gorillavsbear.net). He posts a lot of dreamy, ethreal, washed out kind of music as well as lo-fi, retro poppy sort of stuff. He was one of the first to pick up on "chillwave" and guys like Memory Tapes, Neon Indian, etc. He also posts loads of free mp3s which is always really nice. He started making monthly mixes this year, and they're always really enjoyable to listen to. I don't really know anything about WTD, but it seems rather nice I suppose. Decide for yourself at www.weeklytapedeck.com

Anyways, I have really high hopes for this label. They've only just started, so it's understandable that they've only got two releases at the moment. However, as the ol' sayin' goes, it's quality over quantity. Their two releases are 7" by Cults and Gauntlet Hair. These two bands rule. Both the 7" are sold out at the moment actually, which is unfortunate, but that should show that they are indeed awesome. They've got a new 7" coming soon by the rather excellent Sleep Over as well. Based on their current roster and the good taste of their two blogs, I'm kinda hoping that Forest Family will be something like I think Sub Pop used to be, when they released tons of singles and even if you hadn't even heard of the band, their releases were probably worth buying anyway just because you held the label in such high esteem. Anyways, keep your ears open and buy some stuff. DIY and "true indie" labels like this aren't easy to run I assume, but they really are worth it, so it's worth your money to support Forest Family.

Oh, also, all the tracks they've released so far on the 7" are available for free mp3 download on their site. Killer!

GAUNTLET HAIR // I was thinking... from caitlin mcnichols on Vimeo.





- Alec (found a new way to stream tracks again! woohoo!)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Flash Post

In case you are interested, Mediumphobic has his remaining stock of t-shirts on sale for $10 plus shipping. Here

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown.

A little explanation for this post: A few weeks ago, my brother and I ordered a box of 30 random comics for something like $15, and they recently arrived in the mail. Some of them, I was not a big fan of. See: Beauty and the Beast. Others, I have found to be quite awesome. Chief among them is a pair of comics from Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown. Ironically, we received issues #1 and #3. To our good fortune, Marvel has the comic available to read online, here. The reason they caught my eye is probably pretty obvious; it was the cover art.
It's pretty much like that the whole way through. It seems to be done in watercolor, and has really piqued my interest in the media. The series' art consists primarily the work of Jon J Muth and Kent Williams. Now, I have no problem with the usual pop-art-type comic book illustration style, but I think the novelty of Meltdown's style adds greatly to the already powerful and dramatic paintings. It may sound strange, but the desaturation is pretty refreshing when contrasted with the nauseating colors of most comic books. Oh, and Wolverine is pretty much a characiture of the angry badass that is Wolverine.
Boy howdy. Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown is more than just a pretty face. The art accompanies a great story that offers and alternative history to the disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the USSR. The characters aren't stunning, but I find that one-dimensional characters are pretty much a staple of comic books. Even if you're not a fan of comic books I think the illustrations alone are reason enough to check out the series at the link above. Enjoy!

-Daniel